Ideas from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2012

Where else could I wander around in commercialism for a full day and still enjoy it?  Imagine!  Seattle’s garden & landscape management trade show is on a very short list.

I took the advice from an 8-time attendee and headed straight to the show gardens.  At 930 am, there was a whole lot of folk trying to beat the crowds.  Fortunately, like-minded people turn out to be pretty good company.

It amazes me how much is achieved with only a couple of days of construction on a conference center floor.  Bobcats, cranes, probably even dump trucks helped bring the outside in….. full-scale.

NWFGS - roof waterfall
photo by SVSeekins

The massive, shiny whirligig certainly caught my eye. Instead of spinning clockwise, it seemed to rotate like a black hole – pulling the world into the center of a donut.

It was the full-size porch roof with water falling straight into a lake beside it that got my imagination going.

NWFGS - metal waterfall
photo by SVSeekins

Metal water features continued to grab me all through the trade show.

Water flowing down a metal sheet certainly made an attractive focal point.  Further back, the metal woven through the fence is something I hadn’t seen before, but it appealed.

NWFGS - down-spouts
photo by SVSeekins

How about an artistic twist on the common down-spout?  I can imagine the time it must take to create sculptures like this.  What would I design for the Richmond House? C’s pretty artistic – – perhaps this could be a new career.

NWFGS - courtyard waterfalls
photo by SVSeekins

This same stall displayed waterfall sculptures for the courtyard.  Neither are to my personal taste, but I do enjoy seeing them & picturing whose garden they would look good in.  What do you think?

At another stall, I was intrigued by the standing fountains.  Metal cups streaming down a  driftwood pedestal appealed to me so much more than that classic cement boy taking a leak, or the cement fish squirting water from its mouth.

NWFGS - driftwood fountain
photo by SVSeekins

It took a bit of looking closely before I realized the water circulated back up to the top of the sculpture via the little metal vine that held the cups in place.  A fountain view-able from any side – nice.

NWFGS - brass fountain
photo by SVSeekins

What does this twirling gizmo remind you of?  For me, it takes me back to that childhood movie Bed-nobs & Broomsticks.  Weren’t there a couple wild engineering contraptions in that movie?

It’s not clear to me why garden seating is so appealing.  How often do you really see a gardener relaxing on a picturesque bench & contemplating the world?  Mostly we’re weeding, or dead-heading, or watering, or digging, or planting…. or weeding.  But rarely sitting.  Perhaps it’s just the idea of having a place to sit & relax that appeals.

NWFGS - driftwood chair
photo by SVSeekins
NWFGS - rocking bench
photo by SVSeekins

I admire the mind that could somehow see a chair in a wild piece of root.

I imagine rocking quietly on a bench while reading a book in the shade.  It’s doubtful that it would ever happen – the sun might be too bright on the pages, or the bugs would drive me crazy.   It would doubtless work out better in a grouping of seats, where friends could sit together, visit, & enjoy a refreshing drink or two.   Now that could happen.  In fact, methinks A & J have a rocking bench quite similar to this on their deck.    Hmmmm.

NWFGS - seating area
photo by SVSeekins

Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure J & R have a grouping of Adirondack chairs in a cluster on their deck.  Perhaps that’s why these chairs made of recycled plastic appealed so much.   No doubt, I have subliminal yearnings.

NWFGS - driftwood crevices
photo by SVSeekins

It’s probably because the time is near to start seedlings that I was also drawn to ideas for planting in little spaces.  A driftwood host for small sedums seems like a delightful idea to me.  I can imagine moving some of the clusters of Hens & Chicks into some rows on this log.  Perhaps some cyclamen coum… and later some huckleberry too, as huckleberry thrives in the company of a nurse log.

NWFGS - pipe planter
photo by SVSeekins

During some construction last year, I rescued some terra-cotta drain pipe that was dug out of an area where the new foundations would go.  I’ve stacked the pipe safely away, but I’m still trying to figure out just where the perfect place for them might be – – and what might be the perfect plants to go in them.  It would probably be best to put in something that really likes or needs corralling.

One of the speakers did a chat about using screens to block unwanted views around the yard.  She described something new to me called a Compost Fence.  Her sample showed 2 big posts several feet apart. A sheet of chicken wire spanned the distance between the 2 pillars.  Another layer of wire was nailed parallel on the opposite side of the posts, making a space of a couple of inches between the sheets of wire.  The theory being the pocket between the layers of wire be filled with garden clippings – – creating a compost wall.   Once the clippings composted, plants could be inserted into the dirt wall.  It must look something like this palette planter.

NWFGS - palette planter
photo by SVSeekins

I’ve liked the idea of green roofs for a long time.  A year ago, I was really taken with the idea of the green wall when I saw the sample at the library in Langley.  Since then, there have been more & more ideas showcasing green walls.

NWFGS - wall planter
photo by SVSeekins
NWFGS - terrarium
photo by SVSeekins

In my teens, I made a terrarium in a huge glass jar laid on its side– a bit like a ship in a bottle. It seemed very trendy at the time.  There were a few samples of terrariums around the show, so maybe the fashion is coming back in style.

NWFGS - glass ball planter
photo by SVSeekins

In the end, I just had to buy a set of three dangling terrariums to hang in a window.

Although a generous variety of plants were also available, I didn’t purchase any, figuring it wouldn’t be worth the anxiety on the way home to be hassled at the border.NWFGS - tea party

I enjoyed this scene.  It appears caught between 2 worlds.   I’m not sure if I’m more interested in creating one of these sculptures outside…

NWFGS - kitchen center peice
photo by SVSeekins

… or more drawn to bringing the outside in, with this funky table center !?!

NWFG - moss purse
photo by SVSeekins
NWFGS - moss purse filled
photo by SVSeekins

In the past, I enjoyed heading out to the malls to shop & collect stuff.  Eventually, my growing collection of purses struck me as funny.  How many did I need to carry around one wallet?

These days Purse Planters are more my style.  I can imagine filling each with all sorts of garden gems, maybe as an Easter basket?

NWFGS - jean bird house
photo by SVSeekins
NWFGS - bird feeder
photo by SVSeekins

There was even more whimsy, like this birdhouse fashioned from blue jeans.  Would a bird really live here?  Or would the faeries featured in the moss purses move in?

For that matter, would the faeries use one of these mini bird feeders as a bathtub?

Even some of the lighted obelisks made me think of a faerie village.  What’s next? Garden gnomes?  Yup.  They were around, but on principle, I refused to photograph them.

NWFGS - garden lights
photo by SVSeekins
NWFGS - cold frame
photo by SVSeekins

Eventually, I ran across real garden tools, like this beautifully designed cold frame.  It reminded me of all the work that still needs doing this winter.

Are you tired yet?  I sure was.

What had kept me going this far was a brilliant solution.  Whenever I’d felt overwhelmed, I went to a speaker’s presentation.  I attended Murder, Mayhem, and Must NotsSmall Space Fruit & BerriesScreening for Privacy… and Indestructible Plants presentations.  There were so many others that were sure to be interesting, but just not enough time.  Given a little time, show organizers will post the 2012 handouts.  Happily, many of the 2011 speaker handouts are still online.

NWFGS - goodbye Seattle
photo by SVSeekins

This is truly only a smattering of what I found at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. It was enough to exhaust me.  Satisfied, I left in search of a nice glass of wine & a soft bed.


© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Cyclamen Coum – February Romance

I think February is sleeping in.  The days are getting longer, but it seems so slow. Standing at the Kitchen sink, staring out the window at the drizzle, I let out a squeal.  Hot pink blooms at the base of the apple tree!  I’m saved!  Happy dance.

cyclamen coum - full bloom
photo by SVSeekins

Cyclamen coum shouts for me to come outside and play.  I drop everything to grab the camera. Kneeling down on the soggy lawn, I fumble for the Close Up setting.  The rain dribbles down my neck, but I don’t care.  Blooms!  I see blooms!

For such a tiny flower, it packs a punch.

I mean, snowdrops are lovely but are demure, unassuming white flowers.  Cyclamen coum are bright, exotic, FEISTY flowers.  Round 1 goes to c. coum.

cyclamen coum - full bloom
photo by SVSeekins

In round 2 c. coum throws a low blow to my gut.  It’s a little more pricey than my usual comfort zone, especially considering that it comes in such a tiny pot.  But determined to have real color in the winter garden, I stayed strong & paid the price.

cyclamen coum - debris
photo by SVSeekins

In round 3 I struggled with where to showcase the winter bloomer.  I keep the little bed under the apple tree empty – mostly because I read somewhere that certain bugs climb up tall plants as a way to get high into the apple tree & infect the fruit.  I don’t know whether that’s really true, but it gives me a clear spot, visible from inside, for the cyclamen to show off.  Good thinking, eh?

C. coum are so small that they could easily be lost under a pile of leaf debris, so in round 4 I get busy & do the winter clean up chores.

cyclamen coum - January
photo by SVSeekins

Their speckled round leafs started to show in October.  By mid-January, c. coum had minuscule, bright fuchsia buds.  I often found myself outside cheering them on.  It took a few extra weeks for their flowers to open.  That entertainment value won them round 5.

So now, I’m on my knees with the camera, looking a bit foolish, but happy.  I’m head over heels.   How many more rounds to go?  None,  round 6 is a simple knock out.

Cyclamen coum have got to be my all-time favorites – EVER.   🙂

cyclamen hederifolium - February - leaf only
photo by SVSeekins

Hardy Cyclamen is more often known as a fall bloomer.  Most varieties start in August and some continue through November.  There are lovely examples growing in Abkhazi Garden.

Cyclamen hederifolium (with ivy shaped leaves) is a bully & overruns many of the other varieties.  There are several small patches around our yard, but I’m being ever so careful about placing each variety separately and not too close together.

cyclamen hederifolium - September bloom only
photo by SVSeekins

On a positive note, C. hderifolium’s flowers seem to appear magically out of nowhere, and the leaves show up weeks later.  That’s kind of cool, for a bully.

cyclamen hederifolium - February - rock crevices
photo by SVSeekins

Cyclamen are well suited as a rockery plant, too.  I’m happy to have success with some rooting well into the steep mossy rock in our side yard. My hope is that it’s tough to mix varieties when they’re each growing in their own crevice.

Garden gurus Carole & Bill Dancer have lovely masses of hardy cyclamen flowering throughout their garden beds at this time of year.  Bill says the cyclamen spread effortlessly.  He chuckles that the ants do the work.  They happily move the sticky seeds around for him. My guess is the ants are just as susceptible to this February romance as I am.


Snowdrops – January Gems

The first year at Richmond House I was ecstatic to see snowdrops blooming on January 11.  Months earlier I’d planted some & the early pay off was thrilling.  Happily more were proving that they’d previously been naturalizing around the yard.

The following year, having a better idea of where to seek out the delightful little blossoms:  January 1 – discovery!

Another winter it was December 27.

But this year, even searching vigilantly through the Christmas & New Year holidays, it took until January 11 for my first snowdrop encounter.

January snowdrops
photo by SVSeekins

With West Coast’s winter being dull and drizzly, a promise of the spring to come is like a ray of sunshine.  So even though white flowers are not usually near the top of my list, I celebrate January snowdrops.

These plants are treasures.  When hit with snow for a few days in the middle of the month they barely twitched.  If anything, by the time I went back outside, more were blooming!  In the cool days of our winter snowdrop blooms last for weeks & weeks – well through February.

I like to get down close to the earth & take a close look at them.   It’s fun to discover the little green tatoo on each petal.  And who knew there were so many varieties?

Clusters in my garden haven’t yet become abundant enough to divide, but now is the time to do it.  Usually the recommendation is to wait until a plant is in dormancy before moving it.  With snowdrops that rule doesn’t hold true apparently.  That’s pretty handy, because once they die back I can never really remember where they are.

I’ve used this time of year to shift snowdrops into different locations, as it was a mistake for me to attempt growing them in a spring-flowering meadow.  Although they bloom before the grasses start to grow, their leaves are still busy storing up for next year’s flowers when C has the uncontrollable urge to dust off lawn mower in late February.  Zip, there goes the meadow.

Shorter bulbs, like crocus, might stand half a chance in our lawn, but not snowdrops – – nor daffodils. Those are best left to naturalize in our beds & borders.

© copyright 2012 SVSeekins